Monday, October 01, 2007

Sabean Post-2007 Season On-line Chat

Brian Sabean had a chat earlier today on-line. I tried to get in but was blocked out for some reason relating to my ID name (Persona non grata? :^). Below is the chat, I've inserted "ogc:" whenever I put a comment in.

CHAT

briansabean:3:05 pm
Thank you all for joining us today. Obviously, we wish we were in the position of the nine other teams that are in still in play today. Unfortunately this season did not go the way any of us wanted it to.
ogc:That's putting it lightly. Many, including me, thought the Giants would have been competitive.

briansabean:3:06 pm
Thank you for your continued support this year, and I'm looking forward to answering your questions.

aquila49:3:06 pm
I'm really excited about next year's rotation. What are the organization's plans for Tim Lincecum this Winter in preparation for 2008?
briansabean:3:07 pm
Timmy will not participate in winter ball, but will work with our training staff on a strength and conditioning program.
ogc:The Giants have played it pretty safe with Lincecum since they signed him and they continue to treat him with kid gloves.

DannyN:3:07 pm
Are you going to offer Omar Vizquel a contract?
briansabean:3:08 pm
Omar's situation will be addressed shortly, as we're considering his talent vs. the free agent field. But we still think he can contribute on the field and in the clubhouse for our organization.
ogc:Given the lackluster SS market and this positive comment, it appears the Giants might be OK with signing him. And signing him wouldn't preclude the Giants from signing a 3B who could play SS in the future too. :^) I don't think there would be a huge difference between playing Vizquel or playing Ivan Ochoa, who was our SS for Fresno this season, so as long as Omar doesn't cost too much to resign, I would be OK with him coming back, as long as he's batting 8th.

Chip54:3:09 pm
Brian, are there any changes planned for the player development staff or draft strategy to maybe emphasize offensive players? The other teams in our division are overflowing with young home grown impact hitters.
briansabean:3:09 pm
We are in the process of reviewing all our baseball operations departments, player development, scouting and international, and there will be some personnel changes as well as policy changes.
ogc:Typicaly Sabean answer, answers without answering the question, by talking about whatever the question is about and listing the general things related to that question. Every team not in the playoffs are in the process of review. The main interesting thing is that there will be personnel changes as well as policy changes, but this chat format precludes follow-up type of questions that vague answers generates.

But this corroborates with an article I saw that noted Bochy might be changing some of the coaches on his staff, particularly since he really only got to bring on one person, Tim Flannery, the 3B coach. I see at least one change probably, the 1B coach, who is Willie Upshaw, who was our farm system hitting instructor previously. But the hitting coach Joe Lefebvre is an old pal of Sabean (high school teammates, also worked together with the Yankees), and obviously Righetti will stick around as pitching coach and Mark Gardner as bullpen coach.

I don't know about Ron Wotus. He is a respected bench coach, plus knows our system well, so he's probably staying, but he could be up for managerial jobs again so if he takes off, then obviously Bochy will replace him. But I don't have a sense of whether Bochy would want to replace him in any case since he would be an obvious replacement should the Giants decide that Bochy is not the right fit as manager.

giraffe22:3:10 pm
Who are you looking at in terms of a middle of the order impact type hitter now that Bonds is gone?
briansabean:3:12 pm
In moving forward without Barry Bonds, we understand that we will need to address the need for a middle of the order presence. We'll thoroughly explore the trade and free agent markets, knowing that our pitching depth may engage us in trade talks for such a player.
ogc:A wasted question. Sabean can't talk specifically about who he's looking at without getting fined for tampering. Besides which, is he really going to share his plans with the public, particularly the agents of these players central to Sabean's plans? That would given the agent leverage against Sabean when the Giants are negotiating. You have to keep this type of information under your hat.

Michael24:3:13 pm
For 2008, do you envision Kevin Frandsen as the every day 2B, SS, or utility player?
briansabean:3:13 pm
Kevin will probably be given a chance to be an everyday player with a position to be determined.
ogc:Now that's a great question, and a fairly useful answer. As I've been saying, it's time to see what Frandsen can do. If he sucks, as one commenter said, Aurilia could then take his place in the lineup, so we would be covered there.

SF_Fan_21:3:15 pm
When current contracts expire for the '07 season, what is the team's payroll, and what is our 2008 projected payroll?
briansabean:3:16 pm
In terms of payroll for 2008, we've budgeted roughly the same amount that we did for 2007. Bear in mind that while we have money to address our needs, there are many players under contract due for raises.
briansabean:3:17 pm
However, we will have the wherewithal to fill the holes we need to fill this winter.
ogc:A wasted question. Sabean had already stated in the "Barry Bonds Won't Be Resigned" conference call (video was available on sfgiants.com too) that the Giants were going to roughly have the same payroll. Still, with the raises, there should be at least $30M available to spend (from what I remember Lefty Malo calculating), which should be enough to fill a lot of holes. Thank you Pittsburgh for taking Morris AND his contract.

Thanatos:3:19 pm
After a tough season, how much blame do you put on Bruce Bochy? is his job secure for next season?
briansabean:3:20 pm
Bruce is under contract and will return next season. In my estimation, he did a very good job under trying circumstances.
ogc:Nice sidestep of "how much blame" by focuing on the end result of whether his job is secure or not; good question, poorly stated, in chats you have to keep the questions short and sweet or you allow the chatter to focus on the one aspect they are willing to talk about, and perhaps not what you wanted to really know.

Steinbeck:3:21 pm
In your opinion, who was the Giants' 2007 MVP?
briansabean:3:21 pm
Bengie Molina.
ogc:Hard to argue against that. I would personally go with Cain and Lincecum as co-MVP's.

Raldoo:3:22 pm
I do not mind rebuilding. The Giants method that has lead to tough years had previously lead to years of success. Is there anything we can learn from Diamondbacks success or is that a case of freak chemistry?
briansabean:3:23 pm
Producing homegrown players is going to be one of our main goals in the future. Of the 35 players on the big league roster at the conclusion of the season, 18 were products of the Giants farm system.
briansabean:3:24 pm
Two of our minor league clubs won their league championships in 2007, while five of the six teams posted winning marks. In fact, only the Yankees farm teams have a better winning percentage over the last three seasons than the Giants.
ogc:Nice question, but again Sabean was able to sidestep what Raldoo probably wanted answered, which was about the D-backs. Again, Sabean goes with the corporate-speak, ... "main goals"..."two...won championships"..."five of six teams posted winning marks"... "IN FACT"...

Yargmada:3:25 pm
Have the Giants named the second player from the Matt Morris trade? Is Nyjer Morgan on the list of potentials he seems like he might be a good fit.
briansabean:3:25 pm
We completed the Matt Morris trade by acquiring right-handed pitcher Stephen Macfarland. He's a reliever who spent last season at Pittsburgh's Single-A club in the Sally League.
ogc:Wasted question, please people, don't waste these questions on things you could have easily found out on, say, McCovey Chronicles by posting the question on a diary or El Lefty Malo in a comment, lots of knowledgeable people there, particularly Lefty, could have answered that there. Heck, even I posted who we got in a prior post.

BigBeaver:3:26 pm
What are your thoughts on Zito and what will we see from him in 2008?
briansabean:3:27 pm
We all have to be encouraged by the second half -- quite simply, finishing the season on a winning note. We expect him to be more consistent throughout the season next year.
ogc:Yes, Sabean can tell the future, hence why he allowed the past three losing seasons to happen. Sigh, another wasted question. What other thoughts is Sabean going to say, "huge mistake", "what were we thinking", "yeah, we saw this happening and did it anyway"? He has to say something nice about a player typically, but especially when the player is going to be around for another 6 seasons. He's not going to anger any player who he wants around or who is expected to be around for a long time.

SerraPad03:3:27 pm
the closer position has been a huge hole in the giants bullpen the last couple of years, do you think Brian Wilson and maybe Jonathan sanchez have a chance to be the new closer for next year or are you going to look in the free agency pool?
briansabean:3:29 pm
From what we saw from Brian Wilson, Tyler Walker and Brad Hennessey over the last month of the season, we feel like we have the building blocks for the start of our 2008 bullpen.
briansabean:3:30 pm
We realize the bullpen will be a vital part of our success in the future. The Giants played the most games decided by two runs or less in the Majors this season (94). Many of these contests were decided late in the game and with an improved bullpen, we can turn those numbers around.
ogc: Nice question, nice answer, though any diehard Giants fan could have given this answer too and Sabean didn't give out any really new information, though it is nice that he confirms that the three are the building block of the bullpen. That's a small window into the Giants management's thoughts and plans.

PaulInLV:3:31 pm
What should Giants fans expectations be next year in order to be realistic? Given that quite a few players are under contract, will the team really be that different or should we postpone our hopes until 2009 and beyond?
briansabean:3:32 pm
While we did finish in last place, this team didn't necessarily play like a last-place team. As I mentioned before about the games decided by two runs or less, we were competitive throughout the season.
briansabean:3:33 pm
Parity is rampant in Major League Baseball this year, with no teams posting a .600 or better winning percentage and no team having a sub-.400 mark for the first time since 2000. There have been seven different world champions since the turn of the century, and for the eighth straight year, there won't be a repeat champion.
ogc:OK question, but Sabean again didn't say anything really interesting or new. Without saying that we will be competitive, he gives reasons why we should be competive in 2008, thus implying we should be competitive but not outright saying it so that he can't be shown to be wrong.

davetheaddick:3:34 pm
This season was obviously disappointing for all the ballclub and fans alike. Do you think that it will be wholesale changes for next season or minor tweaks to strengthen a few key positions?
briansabean:3:35 pm
We're definitely looking to build this team around pitching, speed and defense, all attributes that are suited to both AT&T Park and the style of play in the National League West.
briansabean:3:36 pm
Our starting pitching is among the best in the game, and there are a lot of clubs that would like to be able to say that. Again, we realize that we have to upgrade our offense and our bullpen.
ogc:OK question, OK answer, though again any die-hard fan could have answered this. Again, confirmation is good, that the team will be built around pitching, speed, and defense, which as Baseball Prospectus showed, are the three areas a team can emphasize to improve their chances in the playoffs.

kidsplay08:3:37 pm
What is your view on potentially keeping Ortmeier at first? The kid has the build at 6'4"/215, the agility, and has been showing he can give decent production to be a first baseman.
briansabean:3:38 pm
Danny has impressed everybody with how quickly he's been able to pick up the first base position. Hopefully he'll develop the power desired from a corner infielder.
ogc:Good question, OK answer. Ortmeier has shown some good power: at his rate this season, he would have had around 20-25 homers in a full season, which is OK power for a corner IF, but most desire 30+ homers from a corner.

What I want to know is why wait until this August to put Ortmeier there? Jack Hiatt spoke as far back as early 2006 that he thought all OF should learn to play 1B in order to help their chances of making the majors and specifically mentioned Ortmeier. Why did Ortmeier resist until now? It could have been ego and pride. Then perhaps Lewis's and Schierholtz's success at the major league level made him realize that he's the odd-man out in the young OF with Roberts and Winn around, and perhaps Bonds still, so 1B would be a quicker avenue to the big show. So far, so good, good luck Danny (first time I've seen him referred in that way).

sfgiantsschmidt:3:40 pm
What would you consider the biggest dissapointment of 2007?
briansabean:3:40 pm
Not winning more games at home and not winning more games against division rivals.
ogc:I would have put not being competitive for the division title.

Steinbeck:3:41 pm
The top 4 starters seem pretty obvious for next year. What are the plans for the #5 guy? Are you looking to give Correia or Hennessey that spot or maybe aquire another arm?
briansabean:3:41 pm
Correia and Sanchez will be given that opportunity.
ogc:Now that's good info to know. I would have wished/thought that Misch would get a chance too, but he's probably not getting a chance until/unless Lowry is traded, they are similar type of pitcher and both are lefties too.

natomas33:3:42 pm
Are Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum "untouchable" as far as possible trades in the offseason?
briansabean:3:42 pm
Probably.
ogc:That's a disappointing answer. Previous media accounts have quoted the Giants as saying the two ARE untouchable, but now it's "probably". Maybe the offer would have to be one he can't refuse? But what's the likelihood of that? Still, I would have preferred a stronger statement than "probably", we need to build our team around Cain and Lincecum.

Sabes:3:44 pm
With a thin market...do you see the Giants venturing into free agency once again?
briansabean:3:45 pm
From early analysis, the free agent class will not be as strong as it has been in the past, with only a few "difference makers" potentially available. With that said, we're obviously going to look at all avenues to improve the club.
ogc:Wasted question and stupid too, with so many positions open and $30M in payroll to spend, of course the Giants are venturing into free agency, the only question is whether they WILL spend all they got, or just go in with the idea of spending it all.

The good or bad news, depending on how the Giants react, is his point that the free agent class will not be as strong as it has been in the past. Good if the Giants don't go fishing, bad if they do. And they said that they expect the payroll to be the same, implying a lot of fishing, unless they catch one BIG fish. Hopefully they don't pursue the middling players and only go for the difference makers only.

Herkie:3:45 pm
What is the status of Nate Schierholtz for next season? He seems to have all the tools to be a fixture in left field going forward.
briansabean:3:46 pm
Nate will play in the Arizona Fall League this offseason and gain more at-bats against quality prospect pitching.
briansabean:3:47 pm
He obviously played well enough at the big league level this year to be in the mix for playing time next year.
ogc:Nice question, again Sabean sidestepped the main thrust of the question. However, usually only the best prospects who the team is thinking of playing in the majors very soon (perhaps next year) get placed in the AFL to see how they do against top competition.

And it sounds like, reading between the lines, that Schierholtz is no slam dunk to make the 25-man roster to start 2008, since he's only "in the mix", so that's disappointing since he did pretty well in the majors, except for the homering part, but he's done that at almost every level, he would hit but for low power, then suddenly becomes muscleman power-hitter again. I'm hoping he's in the majors at the start of the 2008 season.

Dogbone111:3:49 pm
Speed and defense are essential. However, don't you need power next year to compete in the small ballparks?
briansabean:3:50 pm
Frankly, the parks in our division are considered pitchers' parks. The only club in our division that has bonafide power is Colorado. As Bruce has said on occasion this season, "speed doesn't slump."
ogc: Again, a repeat of the focus on speed and that "speed doesn't slump". Just confirms what Sabean has been saying for years now, about the need for the Giants to move to being a speed team. I would have thought the D-backs park would be power as well, but I haven't seen their numbers for the past two seasons.

merizobeach:3:52 pm
Sir, how happy are you with the Davis-Morris trade?
briansabean:3:52 pm
VERY HAPPY.
ogc:Got to laugh at that response!

armandosdad:3:55 pm
Brian - in the press conference announcing the team's decision to part with Barry Bonds, it was noted that Bonds' deferred salary will count towards the team's future payroll. May I ask how much is deferred and for how many years?
briansabean:3:55 pm
Bonds has deferred monies coming to him over the next few seasons, which will count in our player payroll.
ogc:Wasted question, Sabean wouldn't give such specifics on a contract, the questioner would have been better off keeping it non-specific.

giraffe22:3:56 pm
What is our draft position and who are you eyeing? Hitting, pitching?
briansabean:3:57 pm
We pick fifth. In that position, you expect to get the highest profile player, pitcher or hitter.
ogc:Confirms what I wrote earlier today about the Giants getting the 5th pick. And, of course, up that high, you pick the best talent available, irregardless of need, so another wasted question.

54wasgood:3:59 pm
What is the off season homework for Eugenio Velez?
briansabean:3:59 pm
Velez will participate in the Arizona Fall League, playing mostly second base.
ogc:That was already announced, so no real new info except that he's playing 2B. Interesting that they are planning on playing him at 2B when he played a lot of CF this year. Does that mean that the Giants still see him as a future 2B, meaning Frandsen might not be the 2B of the future? Or just that they want him playing 2B in AAA, but then what happens to the 2B of this past season, William Bergolla?

NextTime:4:00 pm
What were positives this year?
briansabean:4:01 pm
Unquestionably, our starting pitching and the emergence of Wilson, Walker and Hennessey at the end of the game.
ogc:I would also add the play of Bengie Molina, the return of Randy Winn, and the better than expected performances from our young position players: Frandsen, Lewis, Ortmeier, and Schierholtz. Nothing much was expected out of them, but they played pretty well considered their non-prospect status, certainly as well as a group as the much higher regarded D-backs prospects.

Plus the play of new addition Rajai Davis, though he tailed off terribly at the end, so that doesn't bode well for him platooning with Roberts in 2008. However, though he had a horrible slump at the start of September, "Raj" hit well in his last week - .300/.462/.300/.762 in 13 plate appearances, so perhaps that was just a bad slump by a young unproven player (just as much as his hot hitting was a hot streak by a young unproven player). The main things are he has good bat control and eye - only 28 K's in 190 AB this season, with 21 walks for a good 85% contact rate and 0.75 BB/K ratio - and can steal a lot of bases - 78% overall, 80% with the Giants, 22 overall in those 190 AB, that is a LOT.

Sam_K_:4:02 pm
how important is situational hitting to the Giants new direction? can this be taught?
briansabean:4:03 pm
Situational hitting is one of the fundamentals that we will strongly emphasize in Spring Training.
ogc:OK question, but Sabean's answer is one of his usual patented non-response response.

Again, these chats are usually not that informative, you have to pick around to find the golden nuggets of information, which I tried to do above.

Questions I would have asked, if allowed:

* Dodd Stadium, the home field of the Defenders, is a horrible park for power hitters to hit in, their slugging percentage and HR rate is cut almost in half; what are the Giants going to do about that? It seems penny smart and pound foolish to wait for the Defenders owners to fix the park when it is damaging our young power hitters.
* What are the Giants plans for Henry Sosa?
* Where do the Giants think our 2007 high draft picks will play in 2008? (Bumgarner, Alderson, Fairly, Noonan, William, and Culberson)?
* What are the Giants thoughts about Andy D'Alessio's good hitting? What position will he play?
* Where will Angel Villalona play in 2008? Does he look like he could be a quick mover up the system?
* What are your thoughts about Eddy Martinez-Esteve?
* Will you play Travis Ishikawa in AAA in 2008, because we could lose our rights to him soon, his options is up in 2009 I believe?
* Thoughts on Nick Pereira?
* Thoughts on Ivan Ochoa?

9 comments:

  1. Agree with your characterization of most of the "wasted" and "bad" questions. However, I think you overlooked one pretty obvious inference: they specifically look for and choose wasted questions to answer. Or perhpas better put, they look for questions to which non-answers can be given. As Sabean ended by noting, more than 1000 Qs were sent, there's a lot of editorial choices being made behind what "gets on air".

    As for the whole speed and defense issue, a huge question needs to be asked: this team actually was a "speed, defense, and pitching" team (4th in SB, 9th in ERA, 8th in D efficiency) and it fell very flat, predominantly because it was such a poor offense. So is improving all the things it was good at going to give us better results than trying to improve what it was terrible at? There's a hint from Henry Schulman that if 2008 started today, Sabean would prefer a Robert/Davis/Winn starting OF. That seems like step one for a historically bad offense to me.

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  2. Thanks for pointing that out. I remember at my old place of work, I would have to look through the list of submitted questions and pick one that would allow the presenter to shine. Excellent point!

    Good point about speed, defense, and pitching as well.

    However, I don't think that seasonal numbers (I assume the rankings are NL-based) are always the be-all and end-all, it usually depends on the situation.

    In this case, about speed, I would proffer that we didn't really have speed we could use until Roberts was healthy and hitting again, and that we didn't have an above average "steal-ability" for lack of a proper better word coming to mind, until we got Rajai Davis. The team started playing about .500 ball once he joined the team.

    In fact, according to the Merc, the Giants averaged only 4.03 runs per game with Bonds in the lineup and 4.67 runs without Bonds (I'm mad they stole my idea; I was going to do this calc because of all those blowouts we had with young guys in and no Bonds. Plus, small sampling, only 46 games without Bonds). If the Giants can keep that up in 2008 (doubtful but still) that would return to the team easily to above .500, as the team only average 4.22 runs overall. Using Bill James Phythagorean method, that would push our record, assuming similar pitching, 85-77; and assuming some growth by Cain and Lincecum plus a better bullpen, we should be nearing 90 wins with that type of offense (again, doubtful but still, that's the average).

    Defense is good, but could it have been better? With our pitchers, overall, a non-strikeout group for 2007 (Lowry, Morris, Ortiz, Zito, heck, even Cain for a long while) we would get more balls in plays than other teams that strike out more, so defense improvement would help more, relative to other teams, particularly since we expect Zito back and either Lowry/Misch, plus perhaps Correia.

    The thing is, we know Bonds was below average defensively in LF, where most RHH hits balls, and that Roberts is likewise a liability in CF, but that Roberts in LF is one of the tops in the league (check his 2006 defensive stats in Baseball Musing's defensive stats area; PMR?) and Davis with his speed would appear to be improvement on Roberts in CF. Also, Durham has never been a defensive stalwart whereas Frandsen is considered an average defender at 2B. So defense could be improved, even with its strong ranking in 2007.

    Pitching can also be better, much better if things go our way. First, we'll have Lincecum all season long. And I doubt he'll have a meltdown like he did his second month (or so), and hopefully learn something. Second, hopefully Cain has finally learned permanently the lesson he "learned" in mid-May 2006 and in late July 2007, that 1) hitters can't hit his stuff and 2) throw strikes from the get-go. Take out those glitches in performances and he'd be in the Top 5 in ERA, not the Top 10, and challenging for the Cy Young. Third, Zito appears to have figured things our FINALLY, and hopefully pitch much better in 2008 than he did in 2007. Fourth, Lowry, if still around, is just plain good, he can keep his ERA down in the 3's when healthy, he's done it every season he's pitched regularly when healthy (he should have been DLed late 2006 before getting lit up; he had a sub-4 ERA until those happened). And Misch looks like he can duplicate Lowry's performance if given the chance. Fifth, Morris is gone, and as well as he pitched, Correia pitched even better in his short stint, and he has the motivation to achieve because it's what he wants to do.

    Sixth, and most importantly, in my opinion, as I was going to write on this in a post, but here's some initial thoughts, the bullpen can be greatly improved. Improving their inherited runners scoring performance to 75% from about 60% would add 4-5 wins (and each win takes away a loss, remember). Plus, the Giants lost 14 games when leading after 7 innings. I don't know what the average team does, but that seems unacceptably high, we should be able to add at least 4-5 wins there. Right there, that brings us back to .500 this year. Adding a more reliable closer (hopefully) should greatly improve that. Plus the Giants were something like 39-54 in games decided by 1-2 runs, and an improved bullpen would help there (I assume part of that suck relates to poor offense). And the bullpen ERA (4.14) ranked 11th in the NL, so there's an area of improvement again that should help improve the team in 2008. One way would be signing up Scott Linebrink, who Bochy loved in SD, but I'm leery of that because he had a down year, I would be worried he's on his downside. Still, he would be an improvement over most of the guys we have in the pen right now anyhow.

    So yes, the team is good in those areas this season, but I don't think the full effect over a season has been seen yet plus there are still areas of improvement available even with the high rankings.

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  3. Of course, I'm joking about being mad at the Merc, I was trying to make a joke and failed to put in my smiley, I was rushing a bit to get it posted, having computer browser problems almost lost me that post...

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  4. Let me add a few random points, Martin.
    1. People have a tendency to see that we ranked 15th in the league in runs scored. Just a bare ranking is not a very useful tool. The band box teams are, naturally, at the top (Philly, Colo, Cinci, etc). The NL west teams, except for Colo are all in the lower half. That is because they are playing more than half of their games in ATT, Petco, and Dodger stad. So, we are only 60 runs behind SD and LA. That is about 2 1/2 runs per week.
    2. People forget, not only did Roberts miss a month, but he came back early due to an injury to Lewis, as I recall
    3. While Roberts was hurt, though we were playing Lewis and Ortemeir some of the time, we were also running Frandsen, Sweeney, and Klesko out to the OF, too. So, even without Bonds, a steady diet of Roberts, Davis, Winn, with Lewis and maybe Ortmeier as 4th and 5th OFs could well be as productive, possibly slightly more productive than our '07 OF - even with the Bonds factor. I like the potential of Roberts/Davis/Winn batting 1/2/3
    4. The IF still is a big problem. Baring a trade, I see Ort (maybe an Ort/Aurilia platoon) and Frandsen on the right side. Either Aurilia heals and rediscovers his stroke or he gets few ABs. Ort looks to be slightly more productive than Klesko; Frandsen looks to be considerably more productive than '07 Durham.
    Ochoa seems to be an afterthought - and it is looking like Omar comes back. Little difference, I suppose, but why not play Ochoa? Name recognition, maybe.
    5. 3b is a huge puzzle. I think they want to bring in at least a league average 3bman and let Feliz go. If they let him go, they do lose outstanding D, so maybe, on that fact alone, they bring him back. The good thing seems to be they have settled with him in the 7th spot and he will seldom bat higher.
    6. The batting order is hard to put together. 1/2/3 is easy, the OF. If there is no trade for an established big league hitting 3bman, Molina goes 4th, leaving Ort, Frandsen, Feliz, Omar.
    7. I think it is reasonably possible, tho optimistic, to see this line up score an extra run a week, 26 runs over all. That means SP and RP have to make up the remaining 35 runs, still barely over a run a week.
    8. As far as the BP, it already is better, with Henn, Wilson, and Walker (they all have ERAs under 3.5). Kline (4.70) is back, leaving only 3 spots for Chulk (3.57), Atchison (4.11), Messenger (4.20), Munter (4.22), Misch (4.24), Giese (4.82, and Taschner (5.40) to fight over. I am not opposed to bringing in someone who is 3.50 or better, but i think Chulk (assuming his health is completely restored) makes it. Atchison is the only long man in the group, maybe Misch. Only Kline, Misch, TAshner are LH'd. And this assumes either Correia and Sanchez both start (Lowry traded) or Sanchez goes to AAA.

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  5. There is no way in hell that a lineup of Roberts, Davis, Winn, Molina, Ort, Feliz, Frandsen & Vizquel scores more runs than the 2007 version of the crap the Giants ran out onto the field. It is just so out of the realm of possibility that I cannot believe that I even have to state this.....more or less read it. There's a reason why that batting order is hard to put together.....it's an AAA quality lineup at best. Once you get a prolonged look at Davis, you will come to realize why the Pirates gave up on him.....he cannot handle major league breaking pitches on a consistent basis.

    Kline, Atchison, Giese, Munter, Taschner........I think I'm going to puke in my shirt. Make bank that none of these guys are in the bullpen next year.......at least with any type of real role.

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  6. Actually if you really want to help the pitching staff, getting them to throw strikes would probably have a greater effect than anything we can do to an already pretty impressive defense. Our staff's K/BB ratio is, from top to bottom, a group of disaster waiting to happen. When you put that many people on base for free, and that many balls in play, runs will be scored.

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  7. Yes, it would be a group of disasters if DIPS applied to them. It appears that DIPS don't.

    As Tom Tippett showed in his study, there are plenty of pitchers who can succeed in spite of DIPS. As TangoTiger recently showed, skill in reducing BABIP does exist for pitchers, but it doesn't show up until you can compile 7 seasons worth of data (which I assume applies only to starters).

    The only pitchers who should be on the K/BB hit list are Zito and Lowry and they appear to be in the crafty lefty category that Tom Tippett had. Cain had a problem early on but had fixed it later, his K/BB was very low until he figured out, DOH!, that throwing strikes with the first pitch was an optimal thing to do. Took him until August to figure that one out! And it was the same problem affecting him to start in 2006 as well, though not as badly. Sigh... the yute of the world got a lot to learn, but hopefully he won't do it again in 2008, hopefully he finally got it into his head: strikes good, fastball great, nibbling waste of time and his talent.

    Also, you misunderstand how DIPS work. It is not just the free baserunners that kills things for the pitcher, it is usually the lack of strikeouts, which leads to more BABIP opportunities, and thus more hits, that kills things for the pitcher. Each batter who isn't struck out becomes a BABIP appearance and 30% of the time, that becomes a hit. A walk is bad, no doubt, but a hit is that much more worse, in almost all base runner situations, except for the bases empty.

    That's how Kirk Rueter survived so many years as a pitcher, and not just survive but do really well. Rob Neyer analyzed his rates for bases empty and with runners and found that Rueter's walk rate went high when a runner was on base, because he would work hard to prevent a hit, nibbling at the corners. A walk wouldn't hurt as much as a hit in those situations.

    I would suggest reading up on theories before you go around using them. DIPS is a great concept but there were problems with it from the get go, which other analysts have figured out over time. You can still use it for things, but you have to be aware of its limitations and when it is applicable.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I misunderstood? What part of "when you put that many balls in play" did not strike you as a BABIP-related comment? Also, Noah Lowry doesn't have 7 years of evidence, so by Tippett's own logic it's faulty to include him here. He's much more likely to regress next year than to maintain his '07 ERA. Also, looking at Zito's body of work as monolithic doesn't seem appropriate as he's been trending downward in virtually every measurable way for the past 4 years and this year posted his career worst ERA. So DIPS seems to apply pretty well there.

    I hope Cain learns how to throw strikes at some point, as it will definitely hold him back from his potential if he doesn't, but I think you set too much store by what athletes say. Zito threw a game against the A's this year (I think in spring training) and I was listening to the A's broadcast on XM and the announces were talking about how many times he's given post-game interveiws where he said he shouldn't have nibbled so much, he gave the hitters too much credit, etc etc. Same things he said this year after his walkathon performances (or inversely, things he claimed he'd successfully applied after his good ones). My guess is there will be times over the next few year's when you'll hear again that Matt "discovered" the virtue of throwing strikes and times when he seems to have forgotten.

    Also the starters aren't the end of this conversation. I always agreed with Felipe that relievers coming in and immediately issuing walks was a cardinal sin, and yet for the last several years we've had a bullpen that was majorly strike-challenged as well. This year's was a bit better, but relievers have to be able to throw strikes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "I misunderstood? What part of "when you put that many balls in play" did not strike you as a BABIP-related comment?"

    OK, I missed that one.

    Actually, Tippett's point was that there are pitchers who can affect BABIP; it was TangoTiger who found that it takes 7 years to detect. I wrote that they "appear to be" but you are correct that Lowry cannot be categorized like that yet. However, how do you explain 2.5 seasons worth of sub-4 ERA (and he was sub-4 ERA most of 2006 as well until he clearly pitched with his injury)? That Lowry has been lucky his whole career? His stats at minimum suggests that you cannot categorize him as DIPS either, leaving us at a standstill then on him.

    It's easy to wait for a pitcher to have a bad year and then say "there it is, DIPS work". Zito had two very good seasons in 2005 and 2006, beyond what DIPS would say he should be doing. When that was happening, what are you saying then, that DIPS don't apply?

    About Cain and Zito, I'm not as mad at them as I am mad at the coaches for not noticing that they are doing that and not trying to remind them to throw strikes. And maybe Righetti is doing it but just not getting through. But it drives me crazy when Cain had a "DOH!" moment like that, his coaches should be reminding him, his catcher should be on it about that, SOMEBODY should be telling him that.

    I agree about relievers needing to throw strikes as well. Just didn't think about them.

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